Early in my career, a lot of B.A.S.S. tournaments were held during the fall. That schedule fit my style because it was often prime time spinnerbait fishing — just as it is in many parts of the country right now.
The spinnerbait is a great tool for the power fisherman because you can cover water and fish fast — my specialty.
The lure fits the seasonal pattern because the bass are eagerly feeding on baitfish to bulk up before winter.
The pattern has begun in many parts of the country and will continue for several weeks. In fact, I was on Table Rock Lake in late September and the bass were really getting aggressive. Although the water temperature was in the mid 70s, I caught a lot of fish on “blades.”
There are more windows of opportunity for spinnerbaiting in the fall because of the many fronts that push through. And this year, the summer drought has left lakes clearer than normal, which enhances spinnerbaiting. The clearer the water, the farther fish can see the bait churning, and they are drawn to it. A little wind and bad weather offers the perfect scenario.
I’ve found that southern bass don’t chase spinnerbaits the same way northern bass do. In Michigan, the fish want the bait moving fast; in the south, they want it a tad slower.
I use a medium retrieve with big spinnerbaits for fall reservoir fishing. The shad are larger and the bass are targeting bigger baitfish, so a big spinnerbait moving at a medium pace is an irresistible target.
I prefer to throw 1/2- or 3/4-ounce spinnerbaits with willowleaf blades but will upsize the rear blade to a No. 5 instead of the standard 4 1/2.
I will put a plastic trailer on the bait, or use a full-size skirt with a trailer built into it. A lot of the Strike King spinnerbaits I like have that kind of skirt built into them. It creates a bigger profile, which is important.
As noted earlier, wind is a plus, so target areas where the wind is blowing into the bank. The wind or some cloud cover cuts down on light penetration and you'll get fewer short-strikers.
In early fall, most of the fish are on the main lake, but moving. On reservoirs with grass, the shad are drawn to the vegetation. The days are shortening, which has the shad thinking about migration to the creeks and the main lake flats become their first move.
I’ll look for those grass beds on flats or points that are reasonably close to deep water. On lakes without grass, I still fish points on the main lake and the secondary points of major creeks.
I like to reel the spinnerbait with a medium retrieve and pop the rod every 10 feet or so. If I have a fish following, I’ll snap the rod to trigger them to bite.
As the days get shorter and the water cooler, the shad will move into the creeks and the bass will follow. The blue herons and gulls offer clues as to where the bait is positioned, but expect it to move farther into the creeks as the season progresses.
Because the creeks become a little more stained, the bass will get around shallower targets. That’s when I switch to a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce spinnerbait and fish around floating docks, crappie brush piles and logs.
Never overlook boat docks, especially the floating type, because the bass will suspend under them waiting for a pod of shad to swim by.
When fishing the back of creeks, I will go to a shorter rod (6 1/2 or 7 feet) because I can make more accurate casts with the smaller bait. I also like to bang the lure against objects and let it flutter for a second before resuming the retrieve.
Also, remember that the bass will get extremely shallow in the backs of these creeks, so the flats with isolated stumps or pieces of wood are great ambush areas for bass stalking shad.
This is also a time when the HydroWave becomes a key piece of equipment because there are so many shad in the same zone as the bass. I have had several instances where I activated the shad when I turned on the HydroWave, and when that happens, the bass get aggressive.
My best advice for fall spinnerbaiting is to keep moving until you find the fish. This is not a time to sit on a hole; keep that trolling motor moving and the spinnerbait wet if you want to load the boat with quality fall bass.